How to choose an energy company when you switch
Looking to switch energy supplier to save money but not sure how to choose? Apart from looking for the biggest saving, what else should you think about before switching?
We all know switching energy providers could save you hundreds of pounds a year on your bills. But it’s not all about price. There are over 60 home energy suppliers now and they vary hugely in terms of price, size, reputation and the quality of customer service they provide.
Switching to the cheapest supplier you can find might seem like the right thing to do. But if you then have to spend 25 minutes on hold waiting for them to answer your phone call when you have a problem later down the line, you might wish you’d paid just a little bit more to be with a company that delivers better service.
How to choose an energy company
While how much you’ll save when you switch energy provider is really important, there are other things to take into consideration. How easy are they to contact? How good is their service? Are their prices consistently low? So here’s our guide on all the things you need to think about when you’re choosing a new supplier.
Most energy companies offer 12 month fixed price deals as an introductory offer. However, be warned – at the end of the fixed price deal, you’ll usually automatically move to the supplier’s Standard Variable Tariff. This tariff can be as much as £300 a year more expensive for the average user. So make sure you check to see what that supplier’s Standard Variable Tariff is before you switch to them – because when your cheap introductory offer ends, you’ll find yourself on that tariff, unless you proactively contact your supplier to ask for a cheaper deal.
Most energy companies say they have great customer service. The evidence says otherwise. In fact, the energy industry is famous for the poor quality of its customer service. There are exceptions to this. But how do you find them?
There are reports on energy supplier customer service produced annually by Which? and quarterly by Citizens Advice. However, Trustpilot is perhaps the most well-used online review site for energy suppliers. It allows energy customers to post their own, honest reviews about their experience with their energy company. Some of the poorest performing energy companies have Trustpilot scores of less than 2 out of 10. The best have scores of more than 8 out of 10.
One of the bug bears of energy customers is how difficult it is to get in contact with energy companies. Lots of them have a reputation for being pretty slow at answering the phone. Some are disastrously slow. Ofgem provide customer satisfaction results for the Big 6 energy providers. EDF, British Gas and SSE ranked highest in terms of being easiest to contact as at end 2017. Which? provide a wider table including the smaller – often better performing – energy companies each year. If waiting on hold annoys you, you might want to spend some time getting the latest stats and trends. But if, like many people, you pay your bills without ever contacting the energy company, then this may be less of a concern.
Energy Switch Guarantee
The Energy switch guarantee is a voluntary scheme set up by Ofgem, the energy regulator to ensure that customers experience a smooth switch from one supplier to another. The scheme ensures that all switches are completed within 21 days with the minimum of hassle. Unfortunately, only about a third of suppliers have signed up. Again, if a company hasn’t signed up, you might want to question why they can’t commit to guaranteeing your switch will go smoothly. All the Big 6 are signed up, as are a lot of the smaller energy companies including Flow, Ovo, Bulb and Octopus – but not Co-Op and Zog.
Green energy is simply another name for renewable energy and can be made in several ways, including wind, solar and wave power. According to Renewable UK, a single 2.5MW wind turbine can generate enough electricity for the grid to power 1400 homes in the UK – or make 230,000 cups of tea. There was a time when a renewable electricity tariff was a niche product and pretty expensive. Not any more. There are several companies that offer part or all renewable electricity at no extra cost. So you can now do your bit for the environment without paying extra.
Switch and Save
We hope these points help you in your smooth switch to a company that delivers your energy at a cheaper price while also providing good customer service and green energy. This guide has been pulled together with our friends, and Which? recommended supplier, Flow Energy who provide a switching service at their site.